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Guide to the AMC Trail Crew Association papers, 1914-2009

Collection number: MC 232

Size: 9 boxes (3.68 cu.ft.)

About the AMC Trail Crew Association

Conservationists founded the Appalachian Mountain Club in 1876, but the Club did not hire seasonal trail crews in the modern form until 1919. That first gang, composed of Sherman Adams (the future Governor of New Hampshire and President Eisenhower’s Chief of Staff), Dudley Carleton, John Fuller, Cyril Fyles, Otto Hess, Paul Jenks, Carleton Reed, and Clarence Stilwill, cleared trails, replaced signs, constructed and repaired shelters, built log bridges over bogs and rivers, and removed stumps from pathways. The same trail work continues today nearly unchanged. The tools remain much the same from the early twentieth century, although helicopter drops have transformed the logistics of shelter construction and other transportation concerns. In 1972, moreover, the Trail Crew abandoned its long-time home at Hutton Lodge in Whitefield, New Hampshire, for new quarters at Pinkham Notch. Nevertheless, fresh air, exhaustion, splinters, dirt, mosquitoes, mud, flies, unpredictable weather, and great mountain vistas have remained an integral part of the trail crew experience.

Camaraderie and love of the outdoors inspired the creation of the AMC Trail Crew Association in 1952. It was certainly not the first time that alumni sat about and shared drinks and stories; after all, the first recorded trail crew alumni reunion was held at the house of Roy Bailey in November of 1948, and there were probably a few informal ones before that. Nevertheless, the Trail Crew Association was organized to foster a renewed sense of community and outreach amongst an otherwise scattered community. The founders of 1952 asked for annual dues of $1.00 to fund the mailing of their November newsletter, Chips and Clippings. Today, the Trail Crew Association asks for slightly higher annual fees, but their mission remains the same. The current Association maintains an addressee list of current and past trail crew members, holds an annual reunion in Boston and two weekend reunions in summer at Shelburne Lodge, and continues to publish Chips and Clippings. The Association’s main office lies in North Conway, but they also maintain a cabin for reunion use in Shelburne, New Hampshire. The state of New Hampshire recognized the Trail Crew Association’s application for incorporation as a non-profit in 1999.

About the AMC Trail Crew Association papers

The collection includes administrative and hiring documents, work reports from the trails, publications, correspondence, slides and photographs, maps, and even a few artifacts, audio cassettes, and CDs. The collection is divided into seven main series, with the first three containing documents that describe the three functions of the Trail Crew Association: administration, labor, and alumni relations.

The first series of the collection describes the structural makeup of the Trail Crew Association, while the second series is notable for its portrait of seasonal employees working in the White Mountain backcountry. The first subseries, “Trail Crew Applications,” reveals the ways in which young people thought about working and playing in the wilderness and what it would mean to them to be a steward of the mountains. Now and then, the applications have been marked with a pencil-scrawl of “Hired!” These items are of significance to the environmental historian as they capture the mood, spirit, and vocabulary of conservation from the 1960s to the 1980s. The second subseries, “Trail Crew Lists,” might be useful to trail crew alumni as well as historians. Also interesting is the last folder in the series, “Trail Crew correspondence, 1990s,” which includes mostly off-season cards and letters. “It amazes me how much more entertaining people are in the woods,” one trail crew member wrote to friends while working in the Rocky Mountains in an undated card. Another member even wrote about his experiences working on the trail crew to get him into college, and his essay is included in the folder.

The final subseries, “Trail Crew Work Reports and Schedules,” details not only the trail crew’s day-to-day labor, but also the group’s wit and character. Some of these documents deviate from their normal seriousness, especially in the years 1979-1984, when the creative, raucous, and assertive energies of the crew were in full bloom and on open display. Among the more moderate examples is a work schedule for June 27-July 1, 1980. The scheduler informs Rico, Murph, “Pandaman,” and Dave that “we’re going back in time, to the days when men were men and sheep were scared,” and that they will be constructing wooden ladders. Their housing: “one of the beautiful love nest bungalos of Tukermine Ravine. Have fun boys,” the supervisor closes, “and, remember, hold up the crow bar at the first sign of lightning.” In 1981, the work scheduler decided to add quotes of the week to his typewrites. For August 20-24, 1982, the quotes were “It’s a death pack, a suicide rap, we have to get out while we are young,” and “Long live tall trees, tall men, tall ladders, and naked dancing.”

The Trail Crew Association news bulletin, Chips and Clippings, included in Series III, contains valuable information about the organization’s reunion activities, trail maintenance highlights, and personnel news. It is also valuable for its coverage of the 1960s, a decade that is conspicuously lacking throughout the collection. Other notable items in the manuscript collection includes series III, subseries II, which document Trail Crew recollections from the first half of the twentieth century. “The Old Man’s Beard prank” (folder 1), in which trail crew members graced the Old Man with a stylish goatee in 1955, exhibits some of the most boisterous and fun-loving spirit of trail crew culture. Also noteworthy is the art of Victor “VJAM” Martineck and the miscellaneous information for White Mountain tourists in folder 9.

Series V, “Photographs,” offers viewers a visual tour of the trail crew experience. The images, which date back as far as the 1920s, capture the rugged mountain scenery, the trails and trees, the camaraderie, the rough shelters and campsites, and the good humor of life in the White Mountains. It also includes photos of trail crew leisure time and reunions. The best documentation dates from the 1970s, when photographer George Bellrose unpacked his camera and created elegant and artistic portraits of trail crew work.

For more on the Trail Crew Association, interested researchers should also visit the official Trail Crew Association blog. For those interested in joining the trail crew, applications for summer help can be filled out online.

Note: Many of the photos contained in this collection are digitally preserved in the two DVDs in Series VII. Note that the iPhoto Library, which has organized the images into albums, can only be opened on Macintosh systems that have the iPhoto application. To work properly, the AMC Archives Library icon must be copied onto the computer’s desktop before trying to open it. Microsoft operating systems can get at the same individual photos in “JPEG” format, but they will not display the album sorting of iPhoto. Likewise, the CD-R holds more recent images, but none of them appear in hard copy in the collection. The photos in folders “D:\FUNGI2K1,” “PATROL,” “SHELBURNE,” “SIGNS,” and “TCA” must be opened with the software Package.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open.

Copyright Notice

Copyright is retained by the University of New Hampshire.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], AMC Trail Crew Association Papers, 1914-2009, MC 232, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA.

Acquisitions Information

Donated: Board of the AMC Trail Crew Association, 2009 (Accession number: 2010.16)

Collection Contents

Series I: Administrative Documents, 1970-2008

Box 1
Box 1, Folder 1 Administrative correspondence, 1970-2007
Box 1, Folder 2 Shelburne Lodge campaign, 1975-1998
Box 1, Folder 3 Trail Crew work counts and costs, 1994-1996
Box 1, Folder 4 Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws, 1998-1999
Box 1, Folder 5 Gift agreement with Milne Special Collections, 2008

Series II: Personnel and Labor Documents, 1919-1998

Subseries A: Trail Crew Applications, , 1960-1989

Box 1, Folder 6 Trail Crew applications, 1960s
Box 1, Folder 7 Trail Crew applications, 1970s
Box 1, Folder 8 Trail Crew applications, 1980s

Subseries B: Trail Crew Lists, 1919-1998

Box 2
Box 2, Folder 1 Trail Crew membership by year, 1919-1976
Box 2, Folder 2 Trail Crew lists, 1970s
Box 2, Folder 3 Trail Crew lists, 1980s

Subseries C: Trail Crew Work Reports and Schedules, 1953-1970

Box 2, Folder 9 Trail Crew petty cashbook, 1953-1969
Box 2, Folder 10 Trail Crew checkbook, 1959-1969
Box 2, Folder 11 Report on Guyot Shelter, 1970
Box 3
Box 3, Folder 1 Trail Crew status reports and schedules, 1968-1971
Box 3, Folder 2 Trail Crew work schedules and reports, 1972
Box 3, Folder 3 Trail Crew work reports, 1975
Box 3, Folder 4 Work reports, 1977
Box 3, Folder 5 Work reports, 1978
Box 3, Folder 6 Work reports, 1979
Box 3, Folder 7 Work schedules, 1980
Box 3, Folder 8 Work schedules and reports, 1981
Box 3, Folder 9 Work schedules and reports, 1982
Box 3, Folder 10 Work schedules and reports, 1983
Box 3, Folder 11 Flaglines and Trail Program reports, 1983-1993
Box 3, Folder 12 Work schedules and reports, 1984
Box 3, Folder 13 Work log tally sheets, 1988
Box 3, Folder 14 Work schedules and reports, 1989
Box 3, Folder 15 Potential work projects, 1990
Box 3, Folder 16 Work reports, 1990
Box 3, Folder 17 Status reports and schedules, 1991
Box 4
Box 4, Folder 1 Work completed, 1992
Box 4, Folder 2 Out of state work reports, 1966-1992
Box 4, Folder 3 Out of state trail publications, undated

Series III: Alumni Relations, 1924-2008

Subseries A: Chips and Clippings, 1958-2008

Box 4, Folder 4 Chips and Clippings, 1958-1974
Box 4, Folder 5 Chips and Clippings, 1958-1980
Box 4, Folder 6 Chips and Clippings, 1975-2008

Subseries B: Alumni Correspondence and Recollections, 1924-1979

Box 4, Folder 7 TC recollections from 1924, 1990
Box 4, Folder 8 Kent Eanes recollections, 1950-1979
Box 4, Folder 9 Kent Eanes’ 1936 AMC White Mountain Guide, 1936
Box 5
Box 5, Folder 1 “The Old Man’s Beard” prank, 1955
Box 5, Folder 2 TC recollections, 1955-1978
Box 5, Folder 3 TC Alumni Correspondence, 1975-1984
Box 5, Folder 4 75th Anniversary, 1994

Series IV: Miscellaneous Documents and Publications

Box 5, Folder 5 Newspaper clippings
Box 5, Folder 6 Magazine publications
Box 5, Folder 7 Periodical articles
Box 5, Folder 8 Victor J.A. “VJAM” Martineck’s art
Box 5, Folder 9 Miscellaneous White Mountain tourist information

Series V: Photographs, 1926-2006

Box 5, Folder 10 Trail Crew photos, 1920s (mostly by Charles Bradford Mitchell), 1926-1928, 20 photos, black and white, 3.5 inches by 2.5 inches
Box 5, Folder 11 Trail Crew photos, circa 1940, 42 photos, black and white, 3.5 inches by 2.5 inches
Box 5, Folder 12 TC Crew and vehicle photos, 1940-1949, 20 photos, black and white and sepia, 7.5 inches by 5 inches
Box 5, Folder 13 Tercentary Hike photos, 1942, 15 photos, black and white, 3 inches by 4.25 inches
Box 6
Box 6, Folder 1 Yellow scrapbook (held in box 8), 1940s
Box 6, Folder 2 Trail Crew slides, 1949-1962, 24 color slides
Box 6, Folder 3 Black Album (held in box 8), 1950-1954
Box 6, Folder 4 Bob Watt’s TC photos, 1952, 67 photos, black and white, 3.5 inches by 3.5 inches
Box 6, Folder 5 Red Album scrapbook, 1952-1954, 26 photos in black and white or sepia; 7 photos in color, 5 inches by 3.5 inches
Box 6, Folder 6 Building Great Gulf Bridge, 1953, 13 photos, color, 8.5 inches by 11 inches
Box 6, Folder 7 7 Trail Crew photos, 1950s and 1960s, 7 photos in black and white, 7 photos in color, 8.5 inches by 11 inches
Box 6, Folder 8 Trail Crew photos, 1970s, 134, mostly color, most are 3.5 inches by 5 inches
Box 6, Folder 9 George Bellrose photos, 1970s, 145 photos in black and white, 8.5 inches by 11 inches
Box 7
Box 7, Folder 1 TC and SCA slides, 1973-1996, 191 slides
Box 7, Folder 2 Trails Committee meeting, circa 1980, 11 photos in black and white, 3.5 inches by 5 inches
Box 7, Folder 3 Trail Crew photos, 1980s, 137 photos, with some negatives
Box 7, Folder 4 Trail Crew photos, circa 1990s, 3 photos in color, 3.5 inches by 5 inches
Box 7, Folder 5 Trail Crew photos, circa 2000s, 18 photos in color, 3.5 inches by 5 inches
Box 7, Folder 6 Summer reunion, 2003, 40 color photos, 3.5 inches by 5 inches
Box 7, Folder 7 Reunion Photos, 2003, 15 color photos, 3.5 inches by 5 inches
Box 7, Folder 8 Undated Trail Crew photos, 1950s?, 2 photos, 8.5 by 11 inches and 4 by 6.5 inches
Box 7, Folder 9 Undated TC photos, 1970s?, 28 photos, both black and white and color, with negative prints
Box 7, Folder 10 Undated TC photos, 1980s?, 7 photos, mostly color, 3.5 by 5 inches
Box 7, Folder 11 Various or undated TC images18 pen and ink sketches, 9 other various
Box 7, Folder 12 White Mountain scenery, undated,17, various,
Box 7, Folder 13 White Mountain postcards, undated,7, mostly color, 3.5 by 5.5 inches

Series VI: Artifacts

Box 8
Box 8, Item 1 Photo of crystal cascade, Mt. Washington, NH, 1914
Box 8, Item 2 Yellow scrapbook, 1940s
Box 8, Item 3 Black Album, 1950-1954
Box 8, Item 4 AMC shelter wall hanging, cloth
Box 8, Item 5 AMC Mahoosuc trail sign, wood
Box 8, Item 6 AMC Meader ridge trail sign, wood
Box 8, Item 7 AMC Lawn Cut-Off side, metal

Series VII: Multimedia Materials

Box 8
Box 8, Item 1 Letter from Bob Watts to Ben English concerning DVD donation, November 17, 2009
Box 8, Item 2-7 6 audiocassettes entitled “Trail Crew, 1994”
Box 8, Item 8 Audiocassette, Shannon Byle’s interviews with Aldie Jenkins and Jack “Stretch” Hayes, 1950-1955
Box 8, Item 9 Audiocassette, Trail Crew of ’53 and Great Gulf Bridge
Box 8, Item 9-10 2 DVDs entitled “AMC Trail Crew Archives,” including iPhoto Library
Box 8, Item 11 CD-R from Bailey, photos 2000s

Series VIII: Maps

Box 9
Box 9, Item 1 White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire and Maine, 1937, 34 by 33 inches
Box 9, Item 2 White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire and Maine, 1940, 34 by 34 inches
Box 9, Item 3 White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire and Maine, 1940, 34 by 34 inches
Box 9, Item 4 White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire and Maine, 1942, 34 by 34 inches
Box 9, Item 5 Appalachian Mountain Club Trails in New Hampshire and Maine, 1947, 30 by 28 inches
Box 9, Item 6 Appalachian Mountain Club Map of the Mount Washington Range, by Louis F. Cutter, 1960, 23.5 by 15 inches
Box 9, Item 7 Appalachian Mountain Club Map of the Franconia Region, White Mountain National Forest by Robert T. Holloran, 1972, 21 by 16 inches
Box 9, Item 8 Appalachian Mountain Club Map of the Mount Washington Range by Louis F. Cutter, 1972, 23 by 15 inches
Box 9, Item 9 Hiking Trails of New England by the New England Trail Conference, circa 1973, 20.5 by 16.5 inches
Box 9, Item 10 Appalachian Mountain Club Carter-Mahoosuc (on reverse side: Rangley-Stratton), 1976, 23 by 17 inches
Box 9, Item 11 The Appalachian Mountain Club Map of Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park (on reverse side: Weld), 1976, 17 by 14 inches

One Response to “Guide to the AMC Trail Crew Association papers, 1914-2009”

  1. Bob Proudman Says:

    Dear Dr Ross:

    Very impressive on one quick viewing.

    Thanks to you and UNH!

    Bob